Automatica: Assembly, robots, vision trade fair

22 May 2008

Automatica International Trade Fair for Automation: Assembly, Robotics, Vision will take place June 10 to 13, 2008, at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre, to bring together all areas of robotics and automation under one roof. It has been held every two years at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre since 2004.

Laser processing system from REIS ROBOTICS in 2006
Laser processing system from REIS ROBOTICS in 2006

Automatica was developed by Messe München GmbH and the conceptual sponsor of the fair, the robotics and automation division of Germany´s engineering federation (VDMA).

Education and events
The VDI Wissensforum is organising the conference Robotik 2008 on June 11-12 at the International Congress Centre Munich, adjacent to the exhibition. Business and industry leaders will present and discuss the results of their work.

The DAGM (Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Mustererkennung) is holding its congress from June 10 to 13. The information platforms ServiceRobotik and Mechatronik will take place during the fair. Experts will present current themes from the field of pattern recognition and image processing.

The Communication Area will host panel discussions on industry themes, with a focus on applications. Lecture programs will explore themes, trends, visions in robotics, assembly, and vision. Important areas of application will be the automotive industry and metal processing.

Intersolar, taking place almost in parallel with Automatica, is reflected in the lecture program. Lectures on solar energy include Requirements of gripping technology – examples from the solar technology industry and Inline camera inspection in the production of solar cells and solar modules.

At the Innovations Platform Service Robotics 2008 manufacturers, suppliers, and research institutes will be presenting state-of-the-art technology in service robotics in a professionally presented special display.

Machine vision helps membrane technology
Machine vision, a main component in the spectrum of themes at the trade fair, is a key technology in quality control in manufacturing. W. L. Gore & Associates has used fluoropolymers and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) for 40 years for functional clothing for sports and outdoor activities, medical implants, packaging ties and fibres, and membrane technologies for filtration of high-speed data transfer.

The company’s membranes enable containers and housings to breathe; even at high pressure they prevent penetration of particles and liquids. In the automotive and electronics industries, the venting components provide pressure equalisation and protect from oil, water and particles. In the production of membrane systems Gore tests all components using machine vision. Functions and barrier qualities of the polymer membrane material are tested during the production stage. After lamination further testing verifies that there’s no damage and positioning is correct.

The Gore engineering department worked with experts from in-situ, a supplier of vision and sensor systems in Sauerlach, and with Stemmer Imaging GmbH, Puchheim. Project partners use the best combination of image-processing components: cameras, lighting equipment, computing systems, and evaluation software to make the system. A key part developed by in-situ and Gore´s special engineering department, is the software tool Manto from the image-processing library Common Vision Blox from Stemmer Imaging, which, based on artificial intelligence research, can perform previously unsolved tasks in optical object classification. The system is noted for high speed, high stability, and ability to learn without being re-taught.

The user makes available a sufficient quantity of learning examples, images with which the system can learn the difference between good and bad pieces. While it is learning, Manto automatically looks for differentiating features of the pieces, using texture and geometry as criteria and, when needed, colour.

Robots help small- and medium-sized companies
Automatica showcases the European robotics initiative SMErobot, which works to strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium-sized manufacturers. Such companies have faced the dilemma of either investing in market-standard robot solutions to increase productivity, solutions that were often oversized and unsuitable, or they had to enter into cost-cutting competition.

As a pre-competition joint initiative, SMErobot offers help. “Flexible, inexpensive, and application-oriented automation solutions can strengthen the competitiveness of the estimated 228,000 small and medium-sized production companies across Europe,” said Thilo Brodtmann, managing director, VDMA Robotik + Automation, on behalf of participating robot manufacturers.

Five European robot manufacturers – ABB, Comau, Güdel, Kuka, and Reis – are integrated into the EU-wide research project along with the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrttechnik, the Swedish Lund Institute of Technology, other research and university partners, IT firms, software developers, and consultancies. Project management of SMErobot is performed by the Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA in Stuttgart, a German establishment for applied research in automation technology. After three years of research, the results will be presented at a project stand in Hall B2 at Automatica 2008 in Munich.

One new concept enables robots to profitably automate sophisticated industrial applications. Based on parallel construction of robotic joints; it is modular and easily scalable. Due to the low-mass and high strength of the robot, it offers advantages in processing workpieces, and in assembly and handling. A prototype will demonstrate cleaning and processing of cast steel components.

A new operation and programming concept for the Kuka light-construction robot promises interactive forms of co-operation for human and machine. A lightweight robot was designed for rapid, intuitive setting up and programming by any operator at any location. The operator guides the tool mounted on the robot or guides the gripped workpiece to the place in the workroom where it is needed. The robot remembers the work it did with the operator, such as fitting a work piece from individual components. It is easy for a human and machine together to assemble work pieces of the same design. Assembly and welding will be covered in a presentation.

Other results from SMErobot highlight the ease of robot programming by process experts instead of robotics specialists. An intuitive way of programming the robot through holding and guiding is possible with ABB’s Force Control Machining, a software package that identifies forces acting on the robot tool by means of force sensors on the robot flange to recognise where the arm should be moved.

ABB researchers at Ladenburg go a step further to enable simple, trouble-free programming even by inexperienced users for a number of programming tasks. A concept was developed based on a central server from which commands can be called up, with key words, by users of a notebook or PDA or through language input. During programming the robot is taken through the work process in stages, and commands are called up one after another. The server receives and documents them to automatically generate a program.

Flexible pick and place, combination robotic tasks
Visitors to ABB will see a new flexpicker, the IRB 360, and unusual solutions for person-robot co-operation, such as intuitive operation and programming. Also on display are new safety measures and space-saving ideas for joint man-machine work areas.

Robots made by Fanuc Robotics achieve an average of 15 per cent greater acceleration and speed on all axes through the company’s latest developments. With a range of 1,632 mm for 6 kg load, its arc welding robot ARC Mate 100iC has a long arm. There is also a less expensive handling robot of similar design, without the interior cable assembly or hollow wrist.

Greater automation of data flow makes tasks more profitable, according to igm Robotersystem AG. 3D designs are transferred with welding data into the robot programming, and together with continuous offline programming this accelerates program generation. Using robots for combined handling and welding operations reduces costs. Shorter cycle times, increased quality, and low programming and investment costs are at the heart of successful automation for Motoman robotec. New generation single- and double-arm robots have high-grade freedom of movement with up to 13 controllable axes.

At Isra Vision, visitors can obtain information on 2D to 3D robot vision systems, and on quality assurance systems, completion testing, code identification, adhesion task checking, and surface inspections. In-line measuring technology, whereby all 2D- and 3D measuring cells can be directly analysed, adjusted, and integrated into higher processes with analysis software Q-Vis is highly innovative. The all-in-one camera sensor from Schunk contains a complete system for machine vision to recognise objects after simple instruction and to carry out high-speed inspections at up to 40 pps. A gripper with integrated camera enables execution of assembly procedures with completion checks or integrated sorting and quality assurance processes.

G05 assembly concept from Mikron Assembly Technology is standardised and highly modular. Technical refinements include a continuous efficiency improvement process to automatically records statistics on error messages and appropriate corrections. The system achieves up to 100 cycles per minute. Montech meets the demand for flexibility with modular automation and handling components and the Montrac transport system in which self-propelled shuttles link production and logistics processes. The shuttles and the components they transport can be supplied with power while on the move.
The recently developed 150 W piston soldering head from mta automation permits faster soldering and has more reserves. Its control unit is fully integrated in the robot, and the soldering tip can be designed to meet requirements and changed by clicking it into place. The Paro AG automatic and semi-automatic systems score high in assembling mass-produced articles and automation solutions for peripheral equipment for plastic injection-moulding machines. The Flextreme assembly cell can process different product variants using a new kind of sorting process based on machine vision.

Control Engineering News Desk

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